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Command Staff


Chief Sam Thornton

Chief Sam Thornton began his career in the fire service as a volunteer in December of 1995 with what is now known as the Highland Volunteer Fire Department. In February of 1998 Chief Thornton became a paid-on-call member with the City of Portland Fire Department. Chief Thornton became a full-time career firefighter with the city in September of 1998. Since beginning his career Chief Thornton has served as a Firefighter/Engineer until 2007, Captain from 2007 to 2015, Assistant Chief from 2015 – 2020 and became Chief of the Fire Department on September 14, 2020.

Chief Thornton is a 1996 graduate from Portland High School and has an AAS in Fire Science from Volunteer State Community College. He is a certified Fire Inspector and Emergency Medical Technician – Basic along with various other professional certifications.

Chief Thornton has been an active member in the community by coaching multiple sport teams through the years and is an active member in the local church he worships at. He also enjoys bicycling in the surrounding area for exercise. He has been married to his wife Beth (a Portland High School math teacher) for over 25 years and both are enjoying their new titles of grandparents since the fall of 2019.


Assistant Chief Shaun Tyson

Assistant Chief Tyson has worked in public safety since the year 2000. He has served in the fire service, law enforcement, and emergency medical services. Before joining Portland Fire Department, Assistant Chief Tyson worked as a lead fire investigator with Florida’s Bureau of Fire, Arson, & Explosives Investigations. He was assigned to the West Palm Beach Field Office which covered an area over 7,500 square miles and a population of over 2.25 million. Since becoming a fire investigator in 2012, Assistant Chief Tyson has made numerous arson related arrests and produced an arson clearance rate three times the national average. Assistant Chief Tyson has received multiple awards during his years of service, which include fire investigator of the year and arson investigator of the year awards for the State of Florida. In January 2021, Assistant Chief Tyson joined the Portland Fire Department as the city’s first Sworn Fire Marshal. Assistant Chief Tyson oversees fire investigations, fire safety inspections, fire pre-plans, plans review, fire safety education, community risk reduction, and public information for the department, as well as serves as the city’s Safety Director. Assistant Chief Tyson is a member of the International Association of Arson Investigators and National Association of Fire Investigators.